U.S. Missile Defense Test Fails Over Pacific

Missile Defense Control Room file photo

The Department of Defense on Friday, July 5, 2013, announced the failure of a missile defense test over the Pacific, the third miss in a row for ABM tests.

A Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor missile launched from Vandenburg AFB in California failed to connect with its target, a long-range ballistic missile launched from an atoll in the Marshall Islands.

According to the Pentagon:

Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept.

The Marshall Islands are in the western Pacific, roughly 4800 miles from California.  By comparison, North Korea is roughly 5900 miles from California.

While just one part of the overall missile defense strategy, GMD is highly relevant to U.S. efforts to defending the west coast from any hypothetical attack from North Korea.

The ground-based interceptors have not had a successful test since 2008, and had two failures in 2010.

There are 30 ground-based interceptors deployed in California and Alaska, costing $34 billion. The bulk of them, 24, are at Fort Greely, AK, and six are at Vandenburg.

The Obama administration announced plans for 14 additional interceptors to be based on the East Coast.

Links & Resources

> Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

> Missile Defense Test Conducted – DOD 7.5.13

> U.S Missile Defense Test Fails Over Pacific – AFP 7.8.13

> Pentagon Confidence Not Shaken by Missile Interceptor Test Failures – ABC 7.8.13

> Missile-defense interceptor test-launched from Southern California coastal base – Fox News 7.8.13

> Key U.S. missile interceptor test fails, Pentagon says – Reuters 7.5.13

As quoted by ABC, DOD spokesman Greg Little expressed continued confidence in U.S. capabilities to counter a North Korean ICBM launch:

We believe that we have a robust missile defense architecture in place and we are in a position to respond to any threat that emanates from North Korea. Our faith in our missile defense program remains strong and every healthy organization takes stock of mishaps when they occur and that’s what we’re doing now.

DOD news release follows

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132     Public contact:
or +1 (703) 571-3343
July 05, 2013
Missile Defense Test Conducted

The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD) and U.S. Northern Command conducted  an integrated exercise and flight test today of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although a primary objective was the intercept of a long-range ballistic missile target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, an intercept was not achieved.  The interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept.

[featured photo is generic file photo of missile defense control room, not necessarily directly related to subject of article]


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